Streamline email content to increase subscriber engagement

In today’s increasingly fast-paced world, consumers are continually contesting the menace that is the information overload. Email marketers need to understand this and be more and more careful about what they send out.

Time is a precious commodity which needs to be respected. The word newsletter has developed negative connotations for a lot of people, who associate it with a long, wordy, time-waster. With over 50% of emails viewed on mobile devices, consumers don’t want to scroll down through long messages and they certainly aren’t acting on all of them. In 2014, less is more and this concept needs to be adopted by anyone trying to cut through the clutter and truly reach consumers.

There are many ways that email marketers can overcome these challenges and maximize engagement. For starters, content must be easy to understand and digest, authentic, and most importantly, it must answer a question or solve a problem for the reader. In this way it is most likely to offer value, therefore increasing engagement.

Follow these 10 easy steps on content optimisation to make sure that you get the most out of your email marketing efforts and improve on your subscriber engagement metrics:

  1. Plan your content strategy
    The first step to achieve engagement and create a relationship with your consumer is to be intentional and conversational. It is vital that your email newsletters are consistent in tone and format, and that they follow some sort of flow or strategy that readers can expect and anticipate. Consumers need to be made to feel safe with your messaging and assured that it will always be of value to them.

  2. Always have a great topic
    Make sure you have a well thought out, clear topic; one that you want communicated to consumers but also one that will be of use to them. Always ask, is this of real value to our consumers? Provide your readers with something memorable. If you are not sure whether it’s something of value, don’t send it. It’s really worth putting time and energy in to this stage of the process.

  3. Have a world class subject line
    A subject line is the first thing that consumers see, so it is imperative that this acts as your hook and draws them in. Test subject lines with a portion of your database and use the one with the best results for the remainder of the database. Make it interesting and provocative, and as personalised as possible. A subject line should identify where the mail is coming from, what it contains and motivate the consumer to read on. Find out more about subject lines here.

  4. Keep it short and sweet
    Be precise and keep the focus throughout the newsletter. Show the consumer that you understand their inbox is full and that they are busy. Don’t fill your newsletter with promotional jargon and sales talk; causing your subscribers to feel oversold, and it’s only a matter of time until they unsubscribe altogether. So, it is best to not encourage too much. Even scrolling can be extra work for the reader, and with the rise in mobile, recipients are much more likely to read an email if it is short, easy to read, and has a single column or mobile responsive layout.

  5. Have a clear and concise call to action
    Make sure that whatever you want or need from the consumer is apparent.  Communicate this early on and make sure that it is as easy as possible for them to do, by guiding the recipient through the desired process step by step.

  6. Use informative and hospitable headlines
    The effectiveness of the headline directly influences the extent of interest for that particular paragraph. First and foremost it must be informational i.e. what is the key subject of the section. Headlines act as a spotlight into the content and must be delivered in a succinct and orderly manner.

  7. Spread the love
    Avoid content overload. Do not put everything in the newsletter. If you want to promote an article on your website, the specifics of an event, or the like, it is best to simply highlight this and then link through to a more descriptive version on your website or landing page.

  8. Don’t be afraid to use multimedia
    Text only newsletters are so last year; so make sure you use at least one interesting image, illustration, graph, or video to tell your story and intrigue readers. This will undeniably improve engagement rates and interaction with your content.

  9. Map out an effective layout with attractive design
    Content should be bundled in a tangible, easy to digest format. Align your most important information to the top left of your mail, as this is most likely to be read. Craft the body of your email content so that it is scan friendly – using bullet points and bite-size chunks of content. Always consider mobile and make sure that it is packaged and presented in a way that is easy on the eye. Standard, web-friendly fonts, visual content, softer colours, and light backgrounds are best for simple, eye-catching design.

  10. Always edit and test
    An editor with a fresh pair of eyes always helps to spot errors but also to further cut content down. They are able to be more brutal with content, to prioritise, minimise and streamline it. Take care to test on different devices, browsers and operating systems before sending just to be sure.

A great example of this is shown by Hammock a B2B company who increased open rates by 48% just by simplifying their content. So, when making a change to your overall strategy, just bear in mind that if you do change the content up a bit, make sure consumers are aware of this change and why you have made this decision. Unless it’s pretty self-explanatory, always make sure you hold their hand and walk them through your thinking.

In short, try take the time to research and develop an organized content calendar, and use tools such as Hootsuite, Feedly and Pocket to help manage your content efficiently and effectively. This will not only save time but will ensure that you have researched and covered all opportunities available, to help you break through the clutter along with making your email marketing campaigns more memorable – and as a result, increase open rates and engagement.